American Museum of Natural History. Hall of Mexico and Central America.

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Exist Dates

1898 - present

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened approximately 1898. Located on Floor 4, Section 4 from approximately 1900 to 1910 and Floor 2, Section 4 from 1910 to present (1, 1898, p. 32). The Hall of Mexico and Central America at the American Museum of Natural History features the diverse art, architecture, and traditions of Mesoamerican pre-Columbian cultures through artifacts dating from 1200 BC to the early 16th century. The hall has gone through numerous rearrangements and renovations beginning in 1900, and reopening in November of that year (1, 1900, p. 19). The Duke of Loubat donated much material and provided financial support for expeditions (1, 1901, p. 21). Expeditions that contributed to the hall included the Saville Mexican Expedition (1896-1904) led by M.H. Saville, and the Lumholtz Expeditions (1890-1898) led by Carl Lumholtz (1, 1896, p. 20). Curators included Herbert Spinden, Clarence Hay, George Vaillant, and Gordon Ekholm (1, 1912, p. 17; 1, 1929, p. 21; 1, 1966/67, p. 29).

Exhibits featured Copan, Maya, Aztec, Tarascan, and Mixtecan-Zapotecan artifacts, casts of calendar stones, pre-Columbian codices, objects made from jadeite, gold, and copper, and ceramics. Casts of two stelae from the ruins of Quirigua, Guatemala, including the Turtle Stone, were exhibited in another hall, Hall 202, to accommodate their great height (2, 1904, p. 17).

The rest of the Mexican and Central American collections moved into Hall 202 in 1910. The Mitla Restaurant, a Museum dining room designed to represent the temple ruins of Mitla, was open from approximately 1910 to 1913 (1, 1910, p. 16). The Minor C. Keith Collection of Costa Rican gold was in added in 1914 (1, 1914, p. 74). The hall underwent two major renovations with a reopening in February of 1944 (1, 1944, p. 28), and again with a reopening on May 16, 1970, the latter as part of a 10-year exhibition updating program within the Museum. In recognition of the Hall of Mexico and Central America, the Mexican Government awarded the Museum with the Order of the Aztec Eagle (1, 1969/70 p. 3; 1, 1970/71 p. 4).

Many of the same exhibits from previous versions of the hall are still on view as of 2017, including the replica of tomb 104 at Monte Alban, the casts of Central American stelae, miniature models of Chichen Itza and Rio Bec, the Olmec stone head, and Aztec calendar stone, as well as many exhibits of gold, pottery, sculpture, jewelry, and tools (3). Move to second floor noted in 1910 Annual Report. 1910 Annual Report also indicates West Wing location. 1910 AR says hall moved to 2nd floor. Reopened on February 25, 1944 after complete renovation (1944 AR p. 54) 1953, 1956, 1958 General Guides indicate hall is located in hall number 2-B. Costa Rican antiquities in 2-1a. Also some exhibits in 2-a in 1945, 1947, and 1949. 1964-1968 under construction. Opened May 16, 1970.

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1896-1968/69.
    (2) General Guide to the Exhibition Halls of the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1911-1927.
    (3) Hall of Mexico and Central American. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY. June 28, 2017.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years: 1900 (page 19); 1901 (page 21); 1903 (page 19); 1904 (page 22); 1905 (page 20, 25); 1907 (page 29); 1910 (page 17, 50); 1911 (page 60); 1912 (page 18); 1914 (page 74); 1915 (page 40, 43, 80); 1916 (page 44); 1920 (page 27, 103); 1922 (page 13, 102, 103); 1929 (page 21); 1932 (page 65); 1934 (page 9); 1935 (page 13); 1936 (page 16); 1937 (page 18); 1938 (page 11); 1939 (page 9); 1941 (page 34); 1943 (page 13); 1944 (page 1, 28); 1949 (page [10]); 1964 (page 4); 1965 (page 4, 5); 1966 (page 29); 1967 (page 24); 1968 (page 18); 1969 (page 3); 1970 (page 4); 1972 (page 30); 1974 (page 7); 1976 (page 31); 1978 (page 6); 1982 (page 60); 1985 (page 66); 1987 (page 4); 1988 (page 54); 1990 (page 60); 1991 (page 74); 1993 (page 79); 2010 (page 38)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years: 1904 (Table of Contents, 16, 17); 1911 (page 35, 38, 39); 1913 (page 47, 48); 1914 (page 51); 1916 (page 53); 1918 (page 35, 41); 1919 (page 37, 43); 1920 (page 37, 43); 1921 (page 37, 43); 1922 (page 37, 43); 1923 (page 37, 43); 1926 (page 37); 1927 (page 38); 1928 (Table of Contents, 46); 1929 (page 46) 1930 (Table of Contents, 46); 1931 (page 71); 1932 (page 71); 1933 (page 73); 1934 (page 74); 1935 (page 74); 1936 (page 74); 1939 (page 17, 22, 133); 1943 (page 17, 140); 1945 (page 17, 140); 1947 (page 17, 140); 1949 (page 17, 140); 1953 (Floor plans, 24, 176); 1956 (page 26, 176); 1958 (page 26, 181); 1962 (page 12, 43); 1964 (page 12)
    American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction 1972, page 7, 15, 150
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guides for years: 1984 (page 43); 1993 (page 38, 50); 2001 (Table of Contents, 61, 34)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 2, Section 4. Prior to 1910: Floor 4, Section 4. Additional location information: Hall No. 402, c. 1904

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Ekholm, Gordon F. (Gordon Frederick) 1909-1987
Curator (1, 1966/67 p. 29).
Hay, Clarence L.
Research Associate, created exhibit for hall (1, 1922, p. 102).
Horter, Frederick F.
Museum artist, created models of Maya temples for hall (1, 1922, p. 102).
Hyde Exploring Expedition 1893-1899
Expedition collected material for hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
Hyde, B. T. B. (Benjamin Talbot Babbitt) d. 1933
Financed Hyde Exploring Expedition (1893-1899), which collected material for the hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
Hyde, Frederick E
Financed Hyde Exploring Expedition (1893-1899), which collected material for the hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
Ichikawa, Schoichi
Museum artist, created small scale model of the Temple of Tenayuca (1, 1934, p. 9-10).
Keith, Minor Cooper, 1848-1929External link
Donated gold collection (1, 1914, p. 74)
Loubat, J. F. (Joseph Florimond), 1831-1927External link
Duke of Loubat and major donor for hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
Lumholtz Expeditions
Expedition collected material for hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
Lumholtz, Carl 1851-1922
Led Lumhotlz Expeditions (1890-1898), which collected material for the hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
MacCormick, Howard
Museum artist, created models of Aztec ruins for hall (1, 1922, p. 102).
Niven, William 1850-1937
Collected objects at Guerrero, Mexico, which were exhibited in hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
Saville Mexican Expedition
Expedition collected material for hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
Saville, Marshall H. (Marshall Howard) 1867-1935
Curator, led Saville Mexican Expedition, which collected material for hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
Seler, Edward
Collected material for the Duke of Loubat, which was donated to the hall (1, 1896, p. 20).
Spinden, Herbert Joseph 1879-1967
Curator for hall (1,1912, p. 17-18).
Thompson, Edward Herbert 1860-1935
Made casts of facade of temple of Chichen Itza exhibtied in hall (1, 1912, p. 17-18).
Vaillant, George Clapp 1901-1945
Curator for hall (1, 1929, p. 21).

Related Resources

subjectOf
Historic Halls of the American Museum of Natural History
Curated digital images of permanent halls in the American Museum of Natural History Library, Digital Special Collections.

Written by: Clare O'Dowd
Last modified: 2018 December 7


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